Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Watertight Compartments / Yoani Sánchez

Watertight Compartments / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

There are days for separation and others for confluence. Times when it
seems that the strategy of confronting us is working, but also minutes
in which we manage to leap over the narrow limits within which they want
to enclose us. Last night was precisely one of those moments of probing,
of identification and exchange. In Estado de SATS–"Creating a Space for
the Confluence of Art and Thought in Cuba"–we find ourselves among
people of very diverse tendencies, such as the members of Omni Zona
Franca, the leader of the group Puños arriba (Fists Up), and the
organizers of the Rotilla Festival, recently hijacked by official
institutions. They spoke at a packed place, in the midst of the worst of
the August heat, and with a great need to understand why censorship has
been unleashed on them. I think that yesterday some brainy State
Security guy must have lost his job. Because among the hugs, questions,
swallows of tea, they exposed months and months of intrigues,
professionally sowed, to discredit those actors of civil society.

The method is simple and nothing new. They call someone and tell him its
not advisable to talk with someone else, to send him a simple text
message, to respond to a greeting. To justify this distancing, they
clarify that this hip hop musician, that blogger, or some music
producer, works for the CIA, or has been trained by the Pentagon. They
don't have to believe it, it's enough that the intimidation and fear
seep in and few will approach those stigmatized. To sustain such rivalry
it is essential to keep both parties away from each other, to not let
them meet and discover — surprise! — that neither of them has tentacles,
swastikas painted on their clothes, or a gun sticking out of their pockets.

So I enjoyed a hug from Luis Eligio, a resounding kiss from Raudel of
the Eskuadrón patriota (Patriot Squadron), the warm greetings from the
members of Matraka and Talento Cubano. I also listened to them as one
listens to a well-known story: the long suffering of the demonization
they have lived through in person. When the public was given the floor,
the asked them if they had been thrown into the same bag as the
protestors and what would happen to them from now on. Someone told that
since there were so many of us in that bag, the problem now was for
those who had been left outside of it. I went home happy, at the proof
of how ineffective the machinations of the political police are turning
out to be, how difficult it it is to keep everyone compartmentalized.


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